Rev. Deacon Allen Batchelder
September 29, 2013, Pentecost XIX
St. Michael and All Angels
Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3; Psalm 103:19-22, Revelation 12:7-12, Luke 10:17-20
From the Old Testament:
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book.”
From the Revelation to St. John:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
And from the Gospel of St. Luke:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.”
Let us pray:
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer, our Strength and our Salvation.
If I was to ask you a question: do you believe there is “wind?” You can’t see it, but you can feel it. You can see leaves blowing or a person’s hair blowing, so it’s not too difficult to believe that “wind” exists. Now how about a more difficult question: do you believe God exists? Probably 100% of the people here today believe that God exists, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But you can’t see Him; you can’t physically feel Him usually (although it is possible); and yet we go on faith that God does indeed exist.
What about Satan, does he exist? We can’t see him; we can’t feel him; and yet if we are to believe God’s Holy Word, Satan does indeed exist!
We know the story: Satan was cast out of heaven because he revolted against God, and he took with him a third of the angels, which became demons (Rev. 12, 7, 9). He was once the highest of God’s angels, but he rebelled against God and he became the lowest and was cast down (Isa. 14:12-15).
We need to remember that Satan has access to heaven, where he accuses God’s people; but he cannot dethrone the exalted Saviour. His strategy is to persecute God’s people and devour them if possible (1 Peter 5:8). He has a special hatred for the Jewish people and has been the power behind anti-Semitism from the days of Pharaoh and Haman to Hitler and Stalin. And today there is a growing hatred for Christians as well.
Last week we heard about the Muslim terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Kenya. Some 60 people were killed; many wounded. The gunmen questioned their hostages as to their religious beliefs. If you were Muslim, they let you go; if you were anything else, like Christian or Jew, you were killed. This is a religious war; it’s not invisible; it’s real.
You and I are involved in another conflict today: Satan is out to destroy the church, and our victory can come only through Jesus Christ.
We are at war here in America! Just because you can’t see it, does not mean it doesn’t exist. It’s a dirty war – in some ways, worse than the one we are waging against terrorism. It’s being fought right here on our soil as well as many other nations. It’s a war for the minds and hearts of people – between the forces of good and evil, between God and Satan. It’s being done in our schools, our churches, our government, our courts and our media.
The stakes in this war are high because the price is heaven or hell, life or death, darkness or light, freedom or slavery, reward or punishment.
In time, there will also be an invisible war in heaven. What is this celestial conflict all about? The fact that Michael led God’s angels to victory is significant, because Michael is identified with the nation of Israel (Dan. 10:10-21; 12:1). The name Michael means “who is like God” and this certainly parallels Satan’s egocentric attack on Jehovah. Apparently, the devil’s hatred of Israel will spur him to make one final assault against the throne of God, but he will be defeated by Michael and a heavenly host.
In our Old Testament reading, an angel had come to Daniel to give him a special revelation concerning the Jewish people and what would happen to them in the latter days (Dan. 10:14). We get the impression that the glorious man clothed in linen vanished from the scene and one of the angels, perhaps Gabriel, touched Daniel. The old prophet was on his face on the ground, but the ministry of the angel enabled him to lift himself to his hands and knees. Then the angel spoke to him and this gave him the strength to stand upright.
Daniel’s conversation with the angel reveals to us the important fact that there is an “invisible war” going on in the heavenlies between the forces of evil and the forces of God.
Well-meaning people may scoff at the idea of demonic forces and good and evil angels, and they may caricature Satan (a red man with pointed ears, a long tail and a pitch fork), but the fact remains that this is biblical theology. When Lucifer rebelled against God and was judged, some of the angels fell with him and became the demonic evil angels that oppose Christ and obey Satan (Isa. 14:12-15).
Satan has a well-organized army of evil spirits that obey his every command. Through His sacrificial work on the cross, Christ defeated Satan and his army and we can claim that victory by faith. The believer is to put on the whole armor of God by faith and use the Word of God and believing prayer to oppose and defeat the wicked one.
But perhaps there is another factor involved in this war. After the church is taken to heaven, believers will stand before the judgment Seat of Christ and have their life examined. It seems likely that Satan will be present at this event and will accuse the saints, pointing out all the “spots and wrinkles” in the church (Eph. 5:24-27).
The name devil means “accuser,” and Satan means “adversary.” Satan stands at the throne of God and fights the saints by accusing them. But Jesus Christ, the “heavenly Advocate” (1 John 2:1-2), represents the church before God’s holy throne. Because Jesus Christ died for us, we can overcome Satan’s accusations “by the blood of the Lamb.” Our salvation is secure; not because of our own works, but because of His finished work at Calvary.
How furious Satan will be when the church comes forth in glory “without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” When the accuser sees that his tactics have failed, he will become angry and threaten the very peace of heaven.
How does this future invisible war apply to the church today? The same serpent who accuses the saints in heaven also deceives the nations on earth (Rev. 12:9); and one of his strategies is to lie about the church. He deceives the nations into thinking that the people of God are dangerous, deluded, and even destructive. It is through Satan’s deception that the leaders of the nations band together against Christ and His people . God’s people in every age must expect the world’s opposition, but the church can always defeat the enemy by being faithful to Jesus Christ.
Christ’s shed blood gives us our perfect standing before God (1 John 1:5-2:2). But our witness of God’s Word and our willingness to lay down our lives for Christ defeats Satan as well. Satan is not equal to God; he is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. His power is limited and his tactics must fail when God’s people trust the power of the blood and of the Word. Nothing Satan does can rob us of “salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (Rev. 12:10), if we are yielded to Him. God’s great purposes will be fulfilled!
Believers in any age or situation can rejoice in this victory, no matter how difficult their experiences may be. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of the wicked one; and these have been defeated by our Saviour (Eph. 6:10ff).
One thing is certain, we cannot afford to be ignorant of this invisible war because it is waged right here and now! The enemy of our souls wants to gain control of our hearts and minds. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers.
There was a research poll done by Barna Research Group, Ltd., of Oxnard, California in which they discovered the following: Nearly two out of three American adults (62%) agreed that Satan is not a living being but a symbol of evil. And even more alarming is that among evangelical Christians, 52% deny Satan’s existence! 72% of Catholics say the devil is non-existent. Conclusion: One of the major battlefields is taking place within the church! This is probably because Satan is not being preached; people in the pews want to hear about warm and fuzzy things, like cute chubby angels with wings. They don’t want to hear about the coming war with Satan and St. Michael and all of his angels.
The Christian will need resources for this warfare. An army does not send its soldiers into battle clad only in shorts and sneakers! Neither does God send His people naked into the world to war with its prince and his demons.
As believers we need to put on the full armor of God – not a part of it but all of it! This armor comes from God. It’s spiritual in nature. You can’t buy it. It won’t be given by the government. It is received by faith. It is real. It is necessary. Why? So that when the attack comes (and it will come) we can stand our ground!
What are some of the clothes we should put on?
Helmet of salvation: so that we will have the mind of Christ to keep us in the truth.
Breastplate of righteousness: so that we can have a pure heart.
Shield of faith: so that God’s greatness will give us spiritual protection.
Belt of truth: to protect us from error; and a discernment of right and wrong.
Shoes of readiness: so that we can better stand our ground; to be ready to move forward.
Our allies in this invisible war are nothing less than the three Persons of the Trinity! We have the Father to pray to, the Spirit to pray in, and the Son to pray through.
We don’t fight for the victory; we fight from the victory. The victory was won on Calvary by Jesus Christ. We fight in His name, from a position of victory. Jesus has already put His feet on the neck of the devil and He wants us to follow His example.
What are some of the weapons we can use?
We have the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. It’s not just a protective weapon used for defensive purposes. It’s also an offensive weapon.
It’s a “cutting” weapon. It is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It’s alive and active. It can “cut to pieces” all other false religions and philosophies.
We need to keep open our supply lines to the battle, which is prayer. As long as the lines of communication are open, we can call for firepower to help when we need it on the front lines. Satan fears prayer; he knows what a vital force it is when arrayed against him, especially when we invoke the name of Jesus.
Prayer is a mighty weapon in the hands of a committed Christian. In the book of James 5:16 we read: “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.”
Yes, prayer can be used as a weapon. We can pray against the devil. We can bind him in Jesus’ name. In prayer we can bind the binder. We can tie him up and rob his house as Jesus’ taught us. For too long the devil has been robbing the church of Christ. Let us turn the table on him!
Our invisible war battle strategy is to preach the Gospel. In Ephesians 6:19 Paul says, “Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the Gospel.” We need spiritual courage for these days. The devil is out to destroy us. But if we work with our allies and let Christ’s victory be ours, we can defeat him.
Our Lord Jesus took seriously the reality of Satan and his demonic forces, and so should we. This doesn’t mean we should blame every headache and interruption on the demons, but it does mean we should respect Satan’s power (like a roaring lion, 1 Peter 5:8) and his subtlety (like a serpent, 2 Cor. 11:3). One of Satan’s chief traps is to get people to think he doesn’t exist or, if he does exist, he’s not worth worrying about.
If we use the weapons that God has provided us: to use the Bible; pray continually and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, then Satan will be put to flight. That’s the way to victory! That’s the way we win the Invisible War!
Let us pray:
O God, who declares thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running to obtain thy promises, may be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.